The Soul Purpose of Asheville is a community-based initiative to establish a mission statement for our city. “The intention is to gather members of the Asheville Cultural Creative community in order to build stronger relationships, unite our resources, explore areas for mutual improvement and develop tools to manifest positive progressive change in our communities,” says the website. An initial meeting was held on Wednesday, May 7 at the Masonic Temple to share ideas and take the first steps toward defining that mission statement.
The meeting was led by William Najger, a 12-year Asheville resident who has started a number of businesses in town. In an overview of the area’s history he remarked that “historically we were a forest” before becoming a destination for healing and consciousness-oriented lifestyles and businesses. “People come here because it’s a safe place to talk about [New Age] ideas,” he said. While Najger says that he doesn’t know what the original mission statement for Asheville entailed, “there’s been a shift and it’s time to recreate the vision.”
According to Najger, those who either moved to Asheville, or are from the town and chose to stay, picked the locale with an intention in mind. Some wanted to raise families in safe neighborhoods while others wanted to work as healers in a community of like-minded individuals. Often, he pointed out, people get distracted from their initial vision, especially since Asheville offers so many outlets for creativity and entertainment. Najger suggested revisiting that original intention. “As a bunch of individuals looking at their soul purpose, we can write one for our community,” he said.
The first part of the meeting included filling out a survey in which participants listed and ranked three words that completed the sentence, “I feel that Asheville and its community stands for and represents _____________, ____________ and ___________.” The survey can be completed online here. Answers will be compiled as a means of understanding the collective vision of Asheville.
During the second part of the meeting, participants were asked to share their thoughts on what Asheville represents, along with an action to concretize the idea. While some at the meeting felt that ideals such as love, peace and healing were less representative of today’s Asheville than “gentrification, development and exclusion,” as one suggested, others shared plans that included hydroponics and greenhouses for winter food production.